We are looking for essay writers who will help promote the awareness of refugee rights in Korea. NANCEN wants to let the voice of refugees heard as they want to be heard in Korea society. We wish Koreans could come to understand that refugees are not to be feared or pitied. If you are interested in this project, please contact to refucenter@gmail.com, Ku. 



I applied for refugee status and I have to renew my ID Card (Alien Registration Card) every 3 months. My application was denied so I made an appeal, but it was denied again. The ID Card I was given does not allow me to work, yet the cost of living is expensive, paying house rent, food and clothing. Later, I sent my case to the Korean court. 

In South Korea, a refugee is not supposed to work and is not issued insurance, which makes it difficult to live in Korea. I had always thought it was only me, but to my surprise all foreigners who seek refugee status are treated the same way. They all go through the same process.

Another challenge is giving birth in South Korea as a refugee. First and foremost, the baby is not given citizenship according to the Korean government, even though he or she is born in Korea. Secondly, before he or she is recognised as a refugee, he or she must get a passport from the parents’ country, which is very difficult because normally no country will issue a passport to a person who is not in the country. The baby is not given help or aid from the government, and so you suffer from the whole circumstance. This is so sad!!

I have encountered a lot of problems while staying in South Korea: no insurance, hospitals are too expensive and cost of living is high. Lastly, refugees in South Korea are considered very poor people and therefore looked down on. 

Being a refugee in Korea is like living in another world on Earth. When I came to Korea, I thought it was a country of honey to every foreigner, but to my surprise I was so shocked at how foreigners are treated and looked down on, and more so the AFRICANS.

ⓒ The Refugee Art Project

Here is my experience:

I came as a refugee to Korea. Refugees are looked at as poor people in Korea.

One time I was going to a nightclub, and this was out of Seoul, where foreigners are few and most people in those areas have never seen black people. When I entered the club with a friend, all the Koreans were looking at me. Some came to touch my skin and feel it. I got so uncomfortable and uneasy. Then some Korean girls started whispering, talking about me. The music started and still everyone seemed to be bothered by my color. I asked, “Is there anything wrong with me?” Then I heard a voice from behind saying, “Black, black.” All I could do was move out of the club and take my body home to rest. So quickly I went home and decided not to go to that club ever again! After some time, I realized that those people had never seen a black person in their entire life and they were excited to see a black person in their area. After a few months without visiting the club, I happened to pass by with friends, and still the same thing happened to me. Then with a lot of bitterness I asked someone in English, “Why do you do this to me?” but all I could hear from her was Korean and could not understand anything.

Another incident that happened to me was when one time I happened to go shopping in some big mart. On that day lots of Koreans were shopping too, so after I was done shopping I joined the line, followed the order. As the line was moving I happened to be closer to the counter, but then came an old lady called an ajumma, who pushed me from behind and fixed herself there. I tried very much to resist, but she was speaking Korean and I could not understand anything. I felt so bad and she went on speaking the language until she reached the counter. I gave up and left the line. To wind it all up, there is racial discrimination in Korea. A lot of racism.

* Korean version: http://nancen.org/1778

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